John Ashcroft, as Missouri’s governor, made numerous executive and judicial nominations and appointments. As with virtually all chief executives, most of these appointments were not controversial. In addition, as his supporters have stated, Governor Ashcroft did appoint a number of women and minorities to state offices and the state bench. Nevertheless, his record in this area raises troubling questions as well.
In Missouri, supreme and appellate court judges are appointed by the governor from three choices submitted by 7-member judicial appellate commissions. A similar process, with 5-member commissions, is followed for lower court judges in more populous areas. The commissions are composed of a selected judge (who was appointed to the bench by the governor), with the selection of the remaining members divided equally between the governor and attorneys chosen by bar groups. After appointment by the governor, these judges later stand for retention election. Other lower court judges are directly elected by the voters. (See Mo. Const., Art. V, Sec. 25.) As in the federal government, some executive appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.